Staff Name: Miyuki Weldon
Position: Makerspace Manager
Alma Mater: University of California, Berkeley (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, M.S. Mechanical Engineering)
Office Location: Swenson Hall, N228
If our many tools and equipment here at the Fowler School of Engineering (FSE)—such as FFF 3D printers or sticker-making machines—have sparked your interest, then you will soon meet FSE’s Makerspace Manager Miyuki Weldon. Before coming to Chapman, Weldon graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Weldon spent a great deal of time in Berkeley’s makerspace which inspired her to seek a role in a similar environment.
As Makerspace Manager, Weldon is responsible for ensuring that spaces such as the Prototyping Lab, Tech Shop, and Manufacturing Lab are easily accessible to all. Along with student workers, Weldon hosts a variety of workshops designed to introduce students, faculty, and staff to the machines and materials within the space. Her best advice when it comes to Makerspace: accept failure. Crafting your own creation is never successful on the first try, so Weldon helps students understand that failing is an essential part of innovation.
In addition to her role in the Makerspace, Weldon is a part-time faculty instructing two one-unit courses, CPSC 298 Design for Manufacturing and EENG 398 Printed Circuit Board Prototyping and Fabrication, in the fall and spring semesters.
Q&A with Miyuki Weldon
What are some of your responsibilities as Makerspace Manager?
Weldon: My main responsibilities are to make sure that the Makerspace is running smoothly, students have access to the tools, and that we have documentation and training on all the different equipment in the space. So, just to make the experience of users as good as possible.
What’s your favorite part of managing the Makerspace?
Weldon: My favorite part is getting to work with all the students and mentoring them on their projects. Because students will come up with some crazy ideas or great ideas that they want to make and they just need some help or guidance on how to get to that finished product. So, I love helping cultivate those ideas into something and seeing how it all comes out in the end.
What were some of your favorite projects from students, alumni, and/or faculty, and why?
Weldon: One of my favorites was the parrot from the Make-a-Thon. They’re puppets for a theater production and they’re made fully in-house [Makerspace] – with 3D printed bodies, they can open their beaks and flap.
Another good project was a student trying to make furniture set out of plywood and needed help on how to use the CNC router to make those things. It was a very last-minute project, but it was really cool to see it all come together
How can students best maximize the Makerspace’s resources?
Weldon: I would say get involved early. I know it can seem really intimidating but you don’t have to be an upperclassman or have any experience with the equipment. You can just come into the space. You can start doing workshops even if it’s not your thing to do workshops you can look at our website and learn the tutorials. We try to make everything as easy to access as possible. So, just get involved early and try different things– try new things and different equipment whenever you can.
What led you to work for the Fowler School of Engineering?
Weldon: So when I was in college we had a cool Makerspace and I liked using it. It was really fun to learn different equipment and I wanted to learn more about the equipment and really understand more about how to make things. So, I started looking for jobs related to Makerspaces and I did see this one and I applied. I didn’t think much would come from it but then I got the interview and then I got the position! So, I was really lucky that I got this job. It’s been so much fun. I have an engineering degree, but I haven’t been to industry [work]. I was kind of worried that it would be a little monotonous doing industry work or working on very specific tasks whereas here I get to do a lot of things, learn a lot of different equipment, and work with a lot of students. And that’s why I think this [position] is a lot more fun and interesting than maybe if I’d gone into industry.
What is the benefit of students using the Makerspace?
Weldon: So, I’ve heard there have been studies showing that engineering students that get involved in their makerspace early, have higher rates of graduation. I think that this is all anecdotal evidence, but being involved in the Makerspace, no matter what major you are, you get to build confidence from making your own projects, like “this is something I can do, that I produced myself with my own hand”. It helps you build the confidence of understanding how to solve problems and also learn from failure. Failure is an extremely important and common part of making things, making physical objections, and using the equipment.
Failure is common, okay, and normalized in using the space and the equipment and being prepared for that–being prepared to do tests and understanding that I think will help you be successful in life no matter what you do. Because that is part of life too and it’s not always so easy to fail with low stakes. So, I think that’s one of the most valuable things you get from using this space.
Students, staff, and faculty interested in the Makerspace can visit dci-lab.chapman.edu for more information and tutorials.